The time has come to put the misery of last week behind us, I have wanted to do this since moments after the Giants defeated our beloved Cowboys on Sunday night. This has been very difficult for me to do, and hopefully the players on this team have struggled as badly as I.
Let’s take a look at what we have in store for us on Monday night when the Carolina Panthers come to town.
The Panthers are almost a mirror image of this Cowboys team in many ways. They have a very strong rushing attack, led by DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart. This pair of tailbacks is leading the Panthers ground game at just over four yards per carry.
Much like the Cowboys the Panthers offense depends heavily on how effective the rushing attack can be.
John Fox the Carolina Panthers head coach must like Wade Phillips rely on a very streaky Quarterback to lead his team. Jake Delhomme has moments of brilliance, much the same as Tony Romo. Unfortunately for both players and coaches those moments are usually followed quickly by moments of shear stupidity!
The Panthers finished last season with a 12 and 4 record only to get shellacked at home by the eventual NFC Super Bowl representative (a game that they were heavily favored to win) and ended their season prematurely.
It seems the Panthers end up on the same roller coaster the Cowboys have been on for 12 years now! Just when you think they are going to make a push, the wheels fall completely off the bus.
This off season this Carolina team has been riddled with injuries and contract disruptions, none of this has helped them get off to a good start.
After a classic Delhomme meltdown in week one against the Eagles (in which he was benched during the game), they lost a respectable game to the Atlanta Falcons.
I warn you all however, do not think this will be a cake walk win for the “Home Team” ! The Panthers are a very prideful team, and they are fighting to save their season. Expect John Fox to have his defense fired up and ready to fight come Monday night.
Through the first two games of the year Fox’s defense has been rather shaky, giving up almost five yards per carry on the ground. Where they have been strong however is in the secondary.
They have faced two of the leagues best QB’s in McNabb and Ryan and have allowed an average of 151 through the air per contest. They also can create turnovers as through the first two games they have recorded 2 INT. and 2 Fumbles.
The Dallas offense must account for a few players on the Carolina Defense, these guys will absolutely make their night tough if they do not know where they are on every play.
- Julius Peppers
- Jon Beason
- Thomas Davis
How will the Panthers defense decide to attack the Cowboys offense? Well my
Guess is that they will follow the lead of the Giants and Bucs, and load the line of scrimmage with 8 men to try to stop the Cowboy ground attack, and dare Tony Romo and the boys to beat them through the air.
If Tony Romo and the rest of the offense is ready, and prepared they will have the opportunity to rip this game wide open very quickly, but if they let this team stay around well they are going to find themselves in a real brawl!
The Panthers Offense much like the Cowboys are going to use their wealth of backs to open up the passing lanes for Delhomme. Do not forget that Jake has one of the most electrifying receivers in the league at his disposal, you know the real Steve Smith! Not the imitation one that torched the Cowboys secondary just 3 days ago.
The Cowboys will not be able to continue to allow their safeties to take chances by playing close to the line of scrimmage. Whoever draws the assignment of Mr. Smith is going to need help, so they best be ready, and in position to do so.
I cannot express to you and to the Cowboys how extreme the situation is as far as them being able to create pressure! This Cowboy team can only go as far as their defense will take them, they MUST get the lack of pressure problems fixed, and it must begin now!
This may be the most crucial game of the year for the Cowboys, a loss on Monday night could cause this team to spiral out of control much worse than last year! They have an opportunity here to get things going in the right direction and begin to come together.
The Cowboys defense is saying all the right things and showing emotion which is great and I am glad to hear it, but the time for talk is gone, only results matter now!
I have never been big on predicting things especially when it comes to the Cowboys, but I feel an urge to predict this week.
So my prediction is the Cowboys come out firing on all cylinders, scoring early and often, and put the game away before the end of the third quarter.
COWBOYS – 35
PANTHERS - 13
LB Justin Phillips Making a Case to Become a Roster Lock With Cowboys
In Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, the Dallas Cowboys arguably have the best linebacker duo in the entire NFL. They also have some pretty solid backups in Sean Lee and Joe Thomas, but the depth behind those four is completely up in the air. That is excellent news for an undrafted LB like Justin Phillips.
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy LB signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent after the completion of the 2019 NFL Draft. To go from being an Oklahoma State Cowboy to a Dallas Cowboy must've been a dream come true, especially for a kid from Pearland, Texas who rooted for America's Team growing up. The dream probably won't be complete though unless a roster spot comes with it.
Surprisingly, Justin Phillips has put himself into contention to earn one of those coveted roster spots. The way he has played in the first two preseason games has caught the attention of quite a few people, which should make it extremely difficult for the Cowboys coaching staff when it comes to making roster cut decisions. Dallas Cowboys Staff Writer and former Scout Bryan Broaddus agrees…
"Justin Phillips is going to make it hard on this staff to put him on the street. Not only is his finish impressive, but the awareness he plays with in pass coverage is impressive. There is no way I thought he had a chance for that interception, especially with this initial step into the line, but his ability to turn and run to a spot saved him."
Here is the play/interception Broaddus is referring to:
The Dallas Cowboys have typically only carried six linebackers on their 53-man roster these past few years. With four spots already spoken for, Justin Phillips is doing his damnedest to lock down one of those final two up for grabs. That, of course, is easier said than done.
Phillips is likely competing with Justin March-Lillard, who led the team in tackles against the Los Angeles Rams last week and fellow undrafted rookie LB Luke Gifford. Gifford, of course, missed the game against the Rams with an ankle injury he sustained in Week 1 of the preseason against the 49ers. It was actually that injury that resulted in more playing time for Justin Phillips.
If you're doing the math here, that's three linebackers competing for two roster spots. March-Lillard probably has the upper hand right now over the two rookies, but I wouldn't say he's secured a job just yet. That leaves the door open for No. 44 (Phillips) and No. 57 (Gifford).
As much as I like Luke Gifford, and I do, I think the stars could be aligning for Justin Phillips to make it through roster cuts. He's playing really well right now, while all Gifford can do is watch from the sideline until he can get back on the field. Regardless though, it's a position battle worth keeping an eye on.
Do you think LB Justin Phillips has done enough to secure a roster spot?
How Kris Richard May Help CB Michael Jackson Make Cowboys Roster
Cornerback Michael Jackson, one of the Dallas Cowboys' 5th-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, has not been standing out so far in training camp or preseason. But despite the slow start, the influence of Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard could help keep Jackson on the 53-man roster this year.
While no team likes parting with their drafted rookies, it certainly happens. That's especially true for Day 3 players, even 5th rounders, and particularly when a team is as deep with talent right now as the 2019 Cowboys.
The cornerback position is one of Dallas' most loaded. They go four-deep with starting talent in Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis, which leaves just one or two roster spots for the remaining prospects.
Michael Jackson is in competition with veteran C.J. Goodwin and the intriguing Donovan Olumba. Both were with the team last year; Goodwin was a special teams contributor and Olumba was a valuable developmental asset on the practice squad.
So far this preseason, we've seen Goodwin shining on special teams and Olumba making plays at cornerback. Jackson hasn't stood out, unless you count jokes about thin he looks on the field.
In contrast, fellow 5th-round rookie Joe Jackson has been showing up at defensive end. Even if there were no suspension concerns with Robert Quinn and Randy Gregory, Joe Jackson has made himself very difficult to cut.
But despite not having that same momentum or energy around him yet, Michael Jackson may still find his way onto the 53-man roster. And that may have something to do with his position coach.
Since arriving in Dallas during the 2018 offseason, Kris Richard has quickly gained prominence beyond just his official role as the Defensive Backs Coach. He was working as the defensive play-caller last year and is expected to take over fully in 2020, assuming Rod Marinelli retires and Richard doesn't leave for a head coaching opportunity.
When Dallas selected Michael Jackson in the last draft, Jackson became the first cornerback or safety drafted by the Cowboys since Richard arrived. Given that it happened this year, with Richard's influence clearly high on the defense, one would assume that Kris had a big say in the decision to draft Jackson.
No, Richard certainly can't veto any decision made by the Joneses, Will McClay, Jason Garrett, or even Marinelli when it comes to roster management. But if he has any bias towards Jackson as his first draft pick in Dallas, Kris may fight for the rookie more than someone else.
We're all human; agendas come into play. Kris Richard may be more passionate about seeing Michael Jackson succeeding for a variety of reasons. He may pound the table for the team to keep Jackson louder than anyone else in the room.
That doesn't necessarily mean keeping Jackson over some other cornerback, either. The argument could be to go long at CB at the expense of another position; maybe only keeing two quarterbacks or eight offensive linemen to free up a roster spot.
This is purely speculative, of course. For all we know, Richard could be the first one who loses faith and votes to let Jackson go.
But given the situation and all factors involved, it's more likely that Kris Richard will be invested in seeing Michael Jackson succeed and sticking with the Cowboys in 2019. Hopefully, it's in the best interest of the team overall.
DL Kerry Hyder Impressive In Cowboys Week 2 Preseason Win
Kerry Hyder joined the Cowboys this offseason on a one year deal, and while the four-year NFL veteran has put up some solid tape in his time around the league, it was hard to project just what he could bring to the Cowboys defense.
Listed at 6'2" 270 pounds, Hyder is a bit of a tweener on the defensive line. Though the answer to "will he play tackle or end" seems to be "both" to this point in the preseason.
As he fights for his life on this deep defensive line, Kerry Hyder had himself a day in the Cowboys 14-10 victory over the Rams last weekend.
Hyder made an excellent play defending a screen pass in the first quarter, reading the play perfectly and reacting quickly to running back Darrell Henderson coming out of the backfield. Hyder also created some pressure on the quarterback, and finished with 3 combined tackles in very limited playing time.
Hyder's versatility is working well for him as he looks to make the final roster. Like a Tyrone Crawford type player, Hyder will be able to move inside and out depending on the situation. This allows the Cowboys to be flexible in how they structure their depth chart on defense, and in how they decide to rush the passer on third down.
A pass rushing package involving Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence on the edge with the combination of Hyder and Maliek Collins on the inside could turn out to be a very dangerous one for opposing offenses to deal with.
Rod Marinelli spoke to this versatility a couple of months ago, showing just how much he values what Kerry Hyder can bring to this team.
"Maybe you adjust him sometime, once in a while – in a one-on-one pass rush situation, stick him over a guard and start to get a feel for it.” - Rod Marinelli
Earlier this offseason, I wrote that Kerry Hyder could end up being Rod Marinelli's next great under-the-radar find on the defensive line. And if he continues to play with the hustle and awareness that he had on Saturday, he's going to make Rod look very smart in his evaluation.
Kerry Hyder is making it very difficult for the front office to let him go. And, at the end of the preseason, I do expect Kerry Hyder to find himself on the Cowboys' active roster. Especially considering how Mike White is playing at quarterback, and how his release could open up an extra spot at a different position group.
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